Spotted hyenas in the Serengeti. Photo: Marion L East/IZW
Spotted hyenas in the Serengeti. Photo: Marion L East/IZW

Long-term monitoring of sapovirus infection in wild carnivores in the Serengeti: novel strains, host-species specificity and a declining infection risk with increasing group size

Sapoviruses are an emerging group of viruses of the group of caliciviruses and well known agents of gastric enteritis, but very little is currently known about their role in wildlife ecology or the genetic strains that infect wildlife. Research findings by a group of scientists led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) describe for the first time, sapovirus infection in African wild carnivores in the Serengeti ecosystem, including the spotted hyena, the African lion and the bat-eared fox. The results from two decades of monitoring revealed several sapovirus outbreaks of infection in spotted hyenas and, counter-intuitively, that the risk of infection declined as group sizes increased. These findings were published in the scientific magazine “PLOS ONE”. ...

Bat recorder and information flyer attached to a street lamp. The bat recorder automatically detects bats flying past and records their ultrasonic sounds. Photo: Daniel Lewanzik
Bat recorder and information flyer attached to a street lamp. The bat recorder automatically detects bats flying past and records their ultrasonic sounds. Photo: Daniel Lewanzik

LED-lighting influences the activity of bats

The widespread replacement of conventional bulbs in street lighting by energy-saving light-emitting diodes (LEDs) has considerable influence on bats as urban nocturnal hunters. Opportunistic bats lose hunting opportunities whereas light sensitive species benefit. This was shown in a recent study by Christian Voigt and Daniel Lewanzik from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW). ...

Bandicota indica, Leopoldamys edwarsi, Maxomys surifer, Mus cookii, Rattus exulans, Rattus tanezumi (from left to right). | Photos: Serge Morand/IZW
Bandicota indica, Leopoldamys edwarsi, Maxomys surifer, Mus cookii, Rattus exulans, Rattus tanezumi (from left to right). | Photos: Serge Morand/IZW

Discovery of an ape virus in an Indonesian rodent species

The gibbon ape leukemia virus (GALV) is a medically important tool in cancer therapies. GALV is a retrovirus pathogenic to its host species, the southeast Asian lar gibbon (Hylobates lar) and thought to have originated from a cross-species transmission and may not originally be a primate virus at all. An international research team headed by the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) screened a wide range of rodents from southeast Asia for GALV-like sequences. The discovery of a new GALV in the grassland melomys (Melomys burtoni) from Indonesian New Guinea supports the hypothesis that this host species, and potentially related rodent lineages in Australia and Papua New Guinea, may have played a key role in the spread of GALV-like viruses. ...

 

 

Ambling Iceland pony during World Championship. Photo: Monika Reissmann
Ambling Iceland pony during World Championship. Photo: Monika Reissmann

How the Vikings started the worldwide distribution of gaited horses

Some horses have special gaits, which are more comfortable for the rider than walk, trot or gallop. Now, a study by an international research team under the direction of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin revealed that these gaited horses most likely originated in the 9th century medieval England. From there they were brought to Iceland by the Vikings and later spread all over Europe and Asia. These findings were published in the current issue of the journal “Current Biology”. ...

Nyctalus noctula. Photo: M. Röleke/IZW
Nyctalus noctula. Photo: M. Röleke/IZW

Dangerous flight into the wind farm

Wind turbines attract bats. They seem to appear particularly appealing to female noctule bats in early summer. In a pilot study, researchers of the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin noticed this when they tracked the flight paths of noctule bats,  Nyctalus noctula, using the latest GPS tracking devices . The bats managed to take even seasoned experts by surprise. ...

Spotted hyena twin siblings competing for access to maternal milk in the Serengeti National Park (Tanzania). Photo: S. Benhaiem/IZW
Spotted hyena twin siblings competing for access to maternal milk in the Serengeti National Park (Tanzania). Photo: S. Benhaiem/IZW

Maternal social status and sibling rivalry shape milk transfer in spotted hyenas

Females of low social status often have limited access to food resources. As a result, their offspring are nursed infrequently and may experience long fasting periods that can seriously compromise their growth and survival. In particular when they have to share their milk intake with a littermate, milk shortage can be very detrimental. Yet researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and the former Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology in Germany found that low-ranking spotted hyenas were able to compensate to some extent for their low nursing frequency...

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Welcome to the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research!

Willkommen am Leibniz-Institut für Zoo- und Wildtierforschung (IZW)! Deutsche Version der IZW-Webseite.

The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) is an interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to developing the scientific basis for novel approaches to wildlife conservation.

In the current era of the Anthropocene, virtually all ecosystems in the world are subjected to man-made impacts. As yet, it is not possible to predict the response of wildlife to the ever-increasing global change. Why are some wildlife species threatened by anthropogenic change, while others persist or even thrive in modified, degenerated or novel habitats?

To answer this and related questions, the IZW conducts basic and applied research across different scientific disciplines. We study the diversity of life histories and evolutionary adaptations and their limits, including diseases, of free-ranging and captive wildlife species, and their interactions with people and their environment in Germany, Europe and worldwide.

The IZW is a member of the Leibniz Association and the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.